Black Captains of the Chesapeake

Black Watermen of the Chesapeake Bay is being reblogged in honor of Black History Month.



Most seasoned watermen will tell you. Out on the Chesapeake Bay there’s never been much made over the color of a working man’s skin.

Since the heyday of the Chesapeake’s harvesting era, even in the worst days of segregation, the seafood business was one place strong and independent people armed with the tools of the trade, hard earned experience, and a serious work ethic could be assured of earning a living despite society’s presiding racial prejudices.

This bubble of equality, which often popped dockside, was perhaps most prominent in the oyster business. In a handwritten paper composed for the benefit of the Kent Island Heritage Society, longtime waterman George Walters addressed the topic: “Many people don’t realize it but hand tonging was possibly one of the few if not the only industry where there was little or no discrimination. The opportunity was equal to the black man as well as…

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